Jack and I rented an apartment for a week in a cute seaside town. The Adriatic Sea is just over the mountain from Pontelandolfo. It took us an hour and a half to get to San Salvo. That’s a hop, skip and a jump to a fabulous beach resort. Having lived in Asbury Park and Jack’s growing up in Sea Girt, we are pretty familiar with life at the beach. Well, life at the beach here is a wee bit different than a visit to the Jersey shore. First of all, I wasn’t the pack mule carrying an umbrella, chair, cooler, towel, hat, book, water bottle etc. I was a lady of leisure with my own little spot on the water line.
When we first got to San Salvo I scoped out the beaches across from the apartment. One of the things I love about Italy is the beach system. There are totally free beaches that are well maintained or you can rent a fully furnished spot on the beach. I was determined to get the best deal on renting il posto for a week. This would include 2 lettini (lounge chairs) separated by a little round table with the requisite umbrella. Since it was June and not yet high season I was looking for a sconto. The seasonal price for a week averages €100. For €70 we rented a prime spot in the first row of set-ups with the sea lolling in front of us. Ahhhhhh. No schlepping chairs to the beach – just a bag with our iPads, sunscreen and towels. This beach, as they all did, had a bar. Who could ask for more!
While I was lying about reading novels and staring, what struck me smack in the face was how secure the Italian women were and insecure I was. There I was hiding in a beach coverup, hat, towel and just about anything that would disguise my 65 year old pudgy body. There is something about self esteem and bathing costumes. Italian women exude an incredible self confidence and sexuality. That was made even more apparent to me in San Salvo. Scantily clad women of all and I mean all body sizes and types were strolling along the water line. Teeny tiny bikinis were the fashion of the day on everyone – but me. There was no hint of I hate my fat ass and am hiding it under this diaphanous skirt.
Bare topped little girls, hair streaming as they ran and played, were not embarrassed by their bodies. Even the chubby ones frolicked like nymphs. I’m not saying that I had a lousy childhood. I’m saying models of security begat secure children. Here, that really hit home. Growing up I was used to covering up – hide those imperfections – from Clearasil for zits to bows in my hair to draw attention from my too skinny little girl face (yeah, hard to believe that now.) Thank God I came of age in the 60s and started to uncover but still felt I was too fat, too skinny, too not right. I sat on my lettino staring at the Adriatic Sea thinking about all of this self esteem stuff. Feeling pretty and good about themselves seems to be part of the Italian female DNA or is it cultural? Yikes, I’ve got the DNA it must be cultural!
OK, your bored with this topic.
Back to San Salvo. We rented a 2 bedroom apartment with an ocean view – if I stood on my tip toes I could see out the windows. It only cost us off season €250 for one week. It was on the 4th floor of a building that needs its condo owners to take a little better care of the exterior. The elevator only went to the 3rd floor which was perfect – I considered the steps my daily stair master workout. The apartment was small but clean and the owner was charming. I’d rent it again. Actually, I’d rent his second apartment on the same floor – it has a giant terrace facing the sea. The best part was that we were a scant 2 unencumbered blocks to the sea. Here is the link to one of the apartment listings: http://www.mediavacationrentals.com/campomarino-vacation-rentals/0006966000/84945.
The Adriatic is incredibly calm. It is easy to see why families come here. I could walk out for at least as long as a football field and still only have water up to my waist – at high tide.
The best part of the week was when Rosella Mancini, Pasquale Iacovella and my favorite Pontelandolfo kids – Alessio, Gabrielle and Annalaura – came to visit. I rented a paddle boat with a slide and got a great butt workout pedaling around for a hour while the kids slid into the water.
The market comes to San Salvo on Sundays – even before church there were folks shopping. They line up the market trucks along the pedestrian beach walkway. I bet there were 100 stands selling everything from artisanal cheeses, breads, preserves to electrical supplies. The clothing stalls were more high end than the trucks that come to Pontelandolfo. We all ate lunch at one of the pork stands – yummy roast pork on crunchy hard rolls. I would take a ride back on a Sunday just to go to the market.
For those of us who were just too lazy to get off our lounge chairs and walk to the market – the market came to us. Every day vendors of all types strolled the beach. Looking for gold – well maybe it was gold – here comes the guy with the velvet cases. Want your hair braided? How about a henna faux tattoo? Coconut milk to slurp – here comes the rolling cart. Need beach toys – no worry – just raise your arm and the vendor delivers. Rats – you spilled goop on your bikini – for €10 you can get a new one. I loved the action between the vendors and the beach goers and I perfected my ,”no, grazie.”
Moms and grandmoms were buying colorful scarves – not for themselves but for the boys in the family. The pirate look was DE RIGUEUR for all young men – really young. Have you ever tried to get a boy to keep a sun hat on? I haven’t but I’ve seen moms prodding, threatening etc. The pirate look was everywhere and no one’s little head got burnt.
We found a super restaurant, Porto Turistico La Marinelle Osteria del Mare, next to the yacht marina. We quickly became regulars – by that I mean we ate there every other day! We would sit outside, look at the water and order fish. Of course, we were usually there before anyone else and the family was just setting up. 8:00 PM is a bit too early for Italians to venture out for cena. The family didn’t make too much fun of us and were charming to the American who was butchering the pronunciation of the fish. Fresh food, all prepared in house and a nice family staff.
San Salvo is just down the road from Termoli a really interesting beach city with a terrific downtown. Lots of bars, shops and historic sights to peruse. We visited on a day Italy was playing in the Calcio World Cup – every bar but the one I picked was jam packed with folks dressed in their best “go Italy” costumes cheering on their favorite team. We went to the only bar that didn’t have a TV set up – “go aperitif”. Not only did we get the requisite Compari soda for me and white wine for il mio marito but it came with an adorable plates of little snacks. We sat, listened to the sea, munched and watched the world go by. Ahhhh.
Toss the SPF 50 in a bag and visit San Salvo – you’ll be glad you did.